Home > Legal > Will the President and Congress get a budget passed in 2013?

Will the President and Congress get a budget passed in 2013?

January 15, 2013

budgetThe Independent Institute posted an interesting solution for dealing with the debt ceiling going forward. A reminder of how the Federal Budget is supposed to be created under law is also included in the post. Creating the Federal budget is a joint effort involving the President, The US Senate, and the House of Representatives. All three of these entities must work together for a federal budget to be passed. There are even timelines provided in the law so a budget can be ready for each fiscal year.

Before proceeding with this post it is important to understand that the federal government budget operates under a fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on October 1 and is numbered according to the calendar year it ends. For instance the budget the President and Congress will work on this year will begin on October 1, 2013, and be called Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014).

The first step comes from the President as set in the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. The Presidential requirements portion of this Act were codified into law as 31 USC § 1105 – Budget contents and submission to Congress. The following excerpt from section (a) gives the timeline the law sets for the President:

On or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first Monday in February of each year, the President shall submit a budget of the United States Government for the following fiscal year. Each budget shall include a budget message and summary and supporting information..

According to this President Obama is required by law to submit his FY2014 budget proposal on or before February 4, 2013. In his first term President Obama only submitted his budget on time one out of four times. Because of the late fiscal cliff deal the President is not expected to submit his budget by the deadline in February.

The President does not create the actual budget himself. Instead the Executive Branch’s Office of Management and Budget is tasked with monstrous task. Input from the President along with budget requests from Federal agencies are used by OMB to create the actual budget (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’m simplifying for this post).

Now, once the budget has been created the President submits it to Congress. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 was provided to give guidance to the House in Senate on their portions of the budget. A timetable was created in this Act and codified into law as 2 USC § 631 – Timetable. Here is the timetable provided for Congress to take action:

The timetable with respect to the congressional budget process for any fiscal year is as follows:

On or before: Action to be completed:

First Monday in February: President submits his budget.

February 15: Congressional Budget Office submits report to Budget Committees.

Not later than 6 weeks after President submits budget: Committees submit views and estimates to Budget Committees.

April 1: Senate Budget Committee reports concurrent resolution on the budget.

April 15: Congress completes action on concurrent resolution on the budget.

May 15: Annual appropriation bills may be considered in the House.

June 10: House Appropriations Committee reports last annual appropriation bill.

June 15: Congress completes action on reconciliation legislation.

June 30: House completes action on annual appropriation bills.

October 1: Fiscal year begins.

By early April the Senate Budget Committee should have completed its work. In reality the Senate has not adopted a budget since April of 2009. Since that time the federal government has operated on continuing resolutions due to a clack of formal budget. The steps that happen after April have largely remained irrelevant since 2009 because of the inaction of the Senate.

Back to the original question posed in this post: Will the President and Congress get a budget passed in 2013? I doubt it, neither the Executive or Legislative branches of the Federal Government seem inclined to follow the timetables set in law for them to follow. I just thought it was worth doing this post to show that the President and Congress have clearly defined timelines set in law. Sadly there is no recourse set in the law for when the lawmakers ignore their own legally bound budgetary duties…

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  1. April 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm
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